WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) spoke on the Senate floor to denounce the past and present actions of the Chinese Communist Party.
To watch Senator Blackburn’s speech, click below or here.
You can read the transcript recorded in the Congressional Records below or click here.
MRS. BLACKBURN. Madam President, over the past few months, there have
been many of us in this Chamber who have taken Big Tech to task over
their shady and biased business practices. In more than one hearing, we
have grilled them on the privacy, censorship, and antitrust concerns
that have allowed us to keep these CEOs in the hot seat, and that
grilling has taken place by those of us on either side of the aisle.
These are big, big problems, and they are not going to disappear at
the end of this Congress. These are problems that are going to be
But one of the advantages of having these companies, like Facebook
and Twitter and Google, living in our phones and in our homes is that
it is much harder for oppressive governments and global bad actors to
hide their crimes from the rest of the world.
Just last year, about this time, the freedom fighters in Hong Kong--
and this is a poster that I used on the floor just about this time,
December 9, 2019, and it shows the freedom fighters in Hong Kong. It
shows how they were making their case: ``We do not want to become like
These freedom fighters in Hong Kong captured our attention when they
filled the streets and demanded an end to the Chinese Communist Party's
terrible crackdowns on free speech and expression. While the coverage
in the 24-hour news cycle definitely made an impact, it was the
millions of tweets and Facebook posts and videos and blog posts that
turned their movement into a collective global outcry for an end to
violence and terror in Hong Kong.
You see, people saw what was happening there. They saw it in
realtime. Even if they didn't fully understand the politics behind
these protests, they knew that the disproportionate response by the
Chinese Government to stamp out these protests was wrong. As those
posts flowed out of Hong Kong, support flowed right back in, and having
spoken with many of these brave activists, it really meant the world to
them that they were hearing from us.
While all of this was happening, something else--some
countermessaging, if you will--was flowing from Beijing. It was a
message of total capitulation sent by corporations, sports
organizations, the mainstream media, and even powerful national and
world leaders. They were all trying to keep the peace on behalf of
their own self-interests, but as the days and weeks passed by, their
blinders became more and more obvious.
By that time, the online activist community had put the Chinese
Communist Party's crimes on full display.
What started as a debate on free speech and political autonomy morphed
into a full indictment of the Chinese Communist Party's crimes against
humanity, against the Uighurs in Xinjiang, in Tibet, and Inner
Mongolia, and all across Mainland China.
Thanks to internet freedom efforts made possible by the Open
Technology Fund, tweets and videos describing the Chinese Communist
Party's intolerance of dissent escaped the Great Firewall and made its
way into Western news feeds.
The spread of the coronavirus tore away the veil covering Beijing's
corrupt relationship with the World Health Organization and other
international organizations and revealed their scandalous coverup of
the virus's origins--all that truth right on our phones, right on our
iPads and computer screens and on every screen in the house.
Unfortunately, for the millions suffering under the horrors of
communism, truth didn't win the day. The people with the most
responsibility to speak up stayed silent because they were fearful of
retaliation. It was too politically charged, too economically risky.
Someone might take their criticisms the wrong way, and, well, we can't
have that now, can we?
I know from personal experience what it is like to have the Chinese
Communist Party and their allies retaliate against you. Once you speak
up, you are going to get it from all sides.
Just last week, a member of the Chinese state media--for all intents
and purposes, I would suggest this is a propaganda minister for the
Chinese Communist Party. Well, he decided that he had had enough of
what we are doing here in Washington to expose Chinese aggression and
fired off a series of vile, sexist tweets while conspicuously avoiding
the issue at hand. It sounds fairly familiar: Attack the person; attack
The thing is, he was just mirroring the tactics used by his
government. Beijing is all too happy to prey upon the ignorance of
their massive online audience and encourage accusations of racism or
xenophobia as the only acceptable responses to evidence documenting
their own racist, repressive politics. That, right there, is how you
end up with repressive regimes like the one in China gaining so much
power on the global stage when those who should know better allow their
adversaries to cow them into silence.
I appreciate the importance of diplomacy, but diplomacy is
meaningless without consequences. Activists, by their very nature, rise
and fall based on their willingness to speak truth to power when the
most influential among us allow evil regimes to escape those
Today, I call on my colleagues to follow their example and use their
work in this Chamber to speak truth to power about the crimes of the
Chinese Communist Party. We no longer have any excuse not to. If you
want proof, pull out your phones and listen to what activists in Hong
Kong, in Taiwan, and in Mainland China are telling you--or better yet,
listen to what some of your colleagues are telling you.
Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong currently sits in jail for the crime
of criticizing his government. I repeat this: Hong Kong activist, a
young freedom fighter, Joshua Wong, is in jail because he criticized
the Chinese Communist party. He criticized his government. His
sentencing barely managed a blip on the radar here.
Another Hong Kong activist, Jimmy Lai, was denied bail during his own
prosecution specifically because his online newspaper revealed the
truths of the Chinese Communist Party's chokehold on their own people.
The CCP cut off access to his corporate accounts and those of his
employees. So much for Hong Kong's free press. Jimmy Lai and Joshua
Wong live in Hong Kong.
In June, the Senate passed a resolution condemning the CCP's
repression of speech and expression in Hong Kong. These protests are
still happening. Authoritarian crackdowns are still happening. We must
keep speaking about this.
In Xinjiang, CCP forces are systematically targeting and eliminating
the Uighur Muslim population through mass surveillance, population
control, and incarceration in internment camps. Yes, you heard me--
internment camps. It should make your skin crawl to hear that today, in
2020, this is happening.
Last month, I joined my colleagues Senator Cornyn and Senator
Menendez in supporting a bipartisan resolution to finally recognize
that what the Chinese Government is doing in Xinjiang constitutes a
If you are looking for a reason to start speaking out, I can't think
of a better way to get started. Speak up on that. Support this
resolution, which would not only urge the White House to take action
against Beijing but also urge national governments and organizations to
get their heads out of the sand and tear away, piece by piece, China's
disastrous influence over the global political economy, which is
highlighted by the success of the Communist Party's Belt and Road
I will add that I was thrilled today with Secretary Pompeo's tweet
regarding his once again reupping the countries of concern under the
International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. China is on this list, as
well they should be, as they continue to infringe on religious liberty,
and they do engage in systematic, ongoing, egregious religious freedom
violations. They are doing it every day, and the world is watching.
I tell you, I could monopolize this floor for the next week and lay
out every opportunity we have to stand up for the cause of freedom and
speak truth to power about the crimes of the Chinese Communist Party.
Here is a white paper that I unveiled earlier this year. There are
over 100 specific paths toward how we as a nation unraveled the
relationship that we have right now with China. The paper is only 52
pages long. It is a short version. I encourage one and all to take a
look at it and to think about how it is that we got to this point where
an influential government, active in many major international bodies,
including, as of next year, China being in the U.N. Human Rights
Council--how can this government perpetrate a genocide against
minorities and get away with it because of the appalling cowardice of
those who bear witness and choose to do nothing.
I yield the floor.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.